PGA Championship and Lilac Festival pumps millions into local economy

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A rough estimate of $200M is how much money both the PGA Championship, and the Lilac Festival generated for our local economy. Now the goal is to build on that success, and further highlight Rochester’s other tourist attractions.

News10NBC talked to the head of Visit Rochester and found out about the plans they have to help boost our tourism industry.

Visit Rochester’s Don Jeffries tells us at least 40 percent of our visitors for these two events came from out of state. He’d like to see them visit once again, so they can spend their hard earn dollars in our community.

“Buffalo has the Bills. Syracuse has SU Basketball, and Football. We have golf,” said Jeffries who serves as President and CEO of Visit Rochester.

He says over 235,000 golf fans attended the weeklong PGA Championship at Oak Hill. At the same time, the Lilac Festival was attended by over half a million visitors of its own at Highland Park.

“The hotels had a great week. The restaurants. $200M in economic impact to our community, but the real key to that just proves that Rochester can do major events,” said Jeffries.

The success of both events is now being used as a springboard to further boost local tourism. Visit Rochester has come up with a way to get recent visitors to come back.

“One of the things we’re doing is anybody who bought a ticket to the PGA, next week is getting an email from Visit Rochester inviting them to come back next summer,” said Jeffries.

And when they return, he’s hoping they will open their wallets as well.

“We’re affordable. You know it’s not Washington, New York City, Boston expensive, so people can come here, and we are the cultural capital of upstate with all the museums, and art galleries and things we have. People love coming here,” said Jeffries.

One question that keeps popping up is when will the PGA Championship will return to the Rochester area?

“We’d love to have them back, but we have other golf event, and we have other major sporting events. This we have 1,500 athletes checking in for the NCAA National Championship for Track and Field at Fisher. So, we always have stuff going on,” said Jeffries.

When it comes to major events Rochester is just getting started. Next month kicks off the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, which Visit Rochester is currently working on.